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Mentoring: Small Contribution, Big Impact

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Carolanne McAuliffe (second from right) with her mentee Jayne Wise and mentoring pair Gail Hunter and Leeann Teager at the WISE Within NYC Metro wrap-up session.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” — John C. Crosby

I have been in the sports business for many years and have had the good fortune of being touched by many giving and caring colleagues. Through my experience, a strong foundation has been set in understanding and believing in the virtues and importance of meeting and creating bonds with others in the industry. It is this belief that drew me to WISE in the first place.

Becoming a Brain to Pick and an Ear to Listen

When I looked back at the line of people who have helped me along the way, it didn’t take me long to decide to apply for WISE Within. I’ve had several mentors throughout my career, and each one has helped to develop and shape me in different ways. Each was there to guide me, listen to me and, essentially, be a sounding board when I needed it. Additionally, each emphasized the importance of paying it forward.

For my mentoring stint, I was paired with someone I did not know, but with whom I shared mutual acquaintances and colleagues. We met several times, usually early in the morning, exchanging stories of our challenges in the workplace. To broaden our mentoring experience, we double-dated over drinks and dinner with another mentoring duo, which allowed the four of us to connect, expand our network, learn more about each other’s strategies for work-life balance, and catch up on a personal level.

A Push in the Right Direction

One of my mentee’s development goals was to learn how to position herself to take her career to the next level. We dedicated time to exploring how to effectively navigate and look for new opportunities. As it turned out, a prime opportunity presented itself, and it was one in which I knew a few folks. I was able to get my mentee in front of the right people and put in a good word with others in the organization. That is not to say I got her the job, although I like to joke with her about that. She was qualified and ready to make a move, and she did all the right things to reach out, follow up and prove she deserved the job.

In the end, I walked away feeling good about our relationship and my small contribution — a brain to pick and an ear to listen — toward a very bright future. I have no doubt we will continue to stay in touch and be vested in each other’s professional lives.

For those of you interested in furthering your careers, surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and guide you. Continue to develop relationships both in and outside your organization. Go the extra step and send the follow-up email, make a call or even send a thank-you note to those you meet. In short, keep building. And who knows, you could be someone’s push in the right direction.


carolanne mcauliffe

About carolanne mcauliffe

Carolanne McAuliffe, vice president of marketing for the NBA, is responsible for the league’s relationship with its advertising, branding and media agency. She coordinates media planning as well as budgeting and execution of the NBA’s brand campaign. In addition, she works closely with the league’s events department and international offices on overall marketing and branding efforts.

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